The existing route of the Trans Mountain pipeline in Chilliwack runs through Vedder middle and Watson elementary (shown here) schoolyards. The current right-of-way is 18 metres but the company is offering $136,000 to expand that to 42 metres. (Paul Henderson/ Progress file)

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Would you want a major Alberta oil sands pipeline project to run underneath your kids as they play soccer at school?

The good news, at least, is that the Chilliwack school district will get some cash if it approves the route through the school yards at Vedder middle and Watson elementary.

The bad news, for those opposed, is the existing pipeline already runs through those locations.

At its meeting on Tuesday, the Chilliwack school board is set to vote on whether to allow the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project (TMX) to widen its right of way under the two school yards. The current right-of-way is 18 metres, but the company needs to expand that to 42 metres.

By way of compensation, the district is offered $136,350 ($59,400 for Vedder and $76,950 for Watson) if the expansion goes ahead. Upon signing of the agreements, the district would also receive a payment of $4,000 to cover costs and an agreement bonus of $29,525, according to a staff report prepared by secretary treasurer Gerry Slykhuis.

In 2015, Kinder Morgan approached the school board with a similar offer that was rejected.

• READ MORE: Chilliwack school board says no to Kinder Morgan

At that time, trustees Heather Maahs and Silvia Dyck voted in favour, with trustees Barry Neufeld, Paul McManus, Dan Coulter and Walt Krahn opposed.

“It certainly seems like they have us over a barrel,” Trustee Barry Neufeld said in 2015.

“I oppose any deal with the Trans Mountain Pipeline.”

In the report prepared for trustees for the Feb. 26 meeting, Slykhuis laid out four options for the district:

1. Accept the agreement under the current terms;

2. Serve notice that they do not accept the current offer and wish to negotiate;

3. Request arbitration before an arbitration committee. If the district is awarded more than 85 per cent of what was in the original offer, Trans Mountain must pay all of the district’s legal, appraisal and other costs. If it is not more than 85 per cent, the arbitration committee may require Trans Mountain to pay all or some of the district’s costs;

4. Do nothing pending the approval of the pipeline expansion, at which time Trans Mountain may have legal options to impose the right of way.

Visit Wednesday to see what the school board decides.


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